Former governor Bill Richardson, a close confidant of President Obama, has called on him to immediately free Jonathan Pollard. In his December 10 letter to President Obama, Richardson told the president that there is no longer a need to discuss Pollard’s case, and that his sentence should be commuted at once.
Richardson, who served in President Clinton’s cabinet when Pollard’s release was discussed 15 years ago, noted in a letter to the President that all those former officials with first-hand knowledge of Pollard’s case now support his release.
“In my view, there is no longer a need for a discussion today,” Richardson wrote to the President. “Virtually everyone who was in a high position of government — and dealt with the ramifications of what Pollard did at the time — now support his release.”
Richardson pointed out that many of these major decision-makers have issued public calls for Pollard’s release, among them former Secretary of State George Shultz, William Webster, the head of the FBI at the time of Pollard’s arrest, former Senator David Durenberger, who served as Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence at the time of Pollard’s conviction, former Congressman Lee Hamilton, who served as Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee at the time of Pollard’s sentencing, former Assistant Secretary of Defense Lawrence Korb, and former National Security Advisor Robert McFarlane, who served under President Ronald Reagan at the time when Pollard was investigated and ultimately charged with disclosing classified information to an ally without intent to harm the United States.
In his letter, Richardson lays the blame for the injustice of the Pollard case at the feet of then-Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger, stating “…two people in high positions at the time have directly blamed the life sentence of Pollard on the affidavit filed in the case of Secretary of Defense Casper Weinberger that went against the plea bargain [with Pollard and the government’s commitment to not seek a life sentence].”
He continues, “One of those individuals was National Security Advisor Bud McFarlane, who said the affidavit by Weinberger manifested his ‘unbalanced views’ on Israel and caused a ‘great injustice’ to Jonathan Pollard. Assistant Secretary of Defense Lawrence Korb wrote that Weinberger had a ‘visceral dislike’ of Israel, which was displayed in his affidavit in the Pollard case.”
Richardson concludes his letter by pointing out that this is the time of year when a clemency list is being determined by the president and he urged that Pollard’s name be added to the list.
Bill Richardson served as the governor of New Mexico from 2003 to 2011. Prior to becoming governor, Richardson was President Bill Clinton’s Ambassador to the United Nations and Energy Secretary. A former Congressman, Richardson also served as Chairman of the Democratic Governors Association. He has won international acclaim for playing key roles in securing the release of many prisoners and hostages over the past two decades.